Who was the first computer programmer in the world?
Who found the first bug in a computer?
The answers are:
That's what I learnt last week at Code Club.
Code Club is a great initiative driven by Ashley Unitt, Paul Mackintosh and Jack Tench from NewVoiceMedia's development team, designed to get kids aged 9 – 11 learning how to code and finding out more about tech.
Last week was the first time I attended and I was amazed at how engaged and excited the children were. This type of class didn't exist when I was at school and it's great to see the kids committing to extra-curricular activities. In today's digital age, learning to code is an important skill. Young people are surrounded by technology and while most know how to use it, they can benefit from finding out how it works and build it too. Learning to code strengthens problem solving and logical thinking skills, and is useful for a range of disciplines, careers and hobbies.
It was great to see the children using their imagination and working on fun, creative projects like building a computer game and making their own rock band. They seemed so proud of what they were creating, and it was brilliant to see them get the opportunity to learn these kinds of skills at such a young age. It was also nice to see the curriculum taught by people who do this work day to day, it's a great example of skills-based volunteering in action.
I realised why our team return each week, it's because it is fulfilling and you can see the kids enjoying it.
The children’s parents come in at the end of the session and huddle around to see everyone's work - not just their own child's. There is shared pride and a great community feel.
I asked our CTO Ashley Unitt (pictured left) what Code Club means to him and why he volunteers:
"I think it’s important to reach children when they are young and show them that coding is fun, easy and not a mystery. That it’s something they can do and that they can experience the magic of building something amazing that works. To me coding is the magic of plucking ideas from the ether and making them concrete. Who doesn’t want to be Harry Potter or Hermione Granger and be a witch or wizard for real? Very importantly we need to reach those Hermiones before they get brainwashed into thinking coding is “boys' stuff”. I’m very happy to say that in our Code Club half of the children are girls. We also have great fun doing it. Everyone walks out of Code Club with a huge smile on their face, generally much later than we are supposed to finish. Children, volunteers, parents – everyone finds it very rewarding".
Here are some facts about the club:
- It runs from 4.30pm until 5.30pm on a Friday in the Discovery Centre, Basingstoke
- It's entirely volunteer-run by Ashley, Paul and Jack as part of NewVoiceMedia's Foundation programme
- It follows the curriculum from an organisation called Code Club (www.codeclub.org.uk)